Episode 257: Arrested Development: A New Start

The Overthinkers tackle the fourth season of Arrested Development.

Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather are joined by Ben Snitkoff to overthink the fourth season of Arrested Development on Netflix.

Spoiler Alert for all four seasons of Arrested Development.


→ Download Episode 257 (MP3)

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Further Reading

  • [NPR’S Arrested Development Running Joke Guide](http://apps.npr.org/arrested-development/

18 Comments on “Episode 257: Arrested Development: A New Start”

  1. Chris Morgan #

    While I was excited for Arrested Development talk, for it is my fourth favorite show of all time, first I must issue a correction for a show I have never seen. That “district attorney” line is not from this “Skin” show you speak of, but from famed teen soap The O.C. (don’t call it that.) I don’t know if you were joking or not, but just in case…

    Anyway, I binged on Arrested Development like most American heroes, watching 13 episodes on Sunday and the final two on Monday because I couldn’t quite fit them in (I had other stuff to watch on TV.) Unfortunately, it has made them run together in my mind a bit, but overall it was really good I think. On par with the third season, which isn’t quite as good as the first two seasons. I agree with the general consensus that it started slow, although I am hire on the third episode than most as a big Lindsay fan, but as the pieces fell into place, and as G.O.B. got involved more, I started to really enjoy it. I thought all the episodes were good, but only one or two, maybe, hit the level of “great.”

    I was also pleasantly surprised with the Maeby episode, as she was the least interesting character to me in the original run. I also don’t find her plight all that tragic, because Maeby is more or less a conniving con artist type. I mean, sure she is accidentally a sexual predator, but it is as the result of the fact she was trying to actively trying to get Perfecto to be a sexual predator. And when she found out, she just brushed it off, which was funny and true to the character, but not something that elicits sympathy.

    I agree that a few episodes could maybe have been cut down a few minutes, but I thought most were fine, and I also didn’t have many issues with directing or editing choices as many other folks seemed to. I appreciated their level of fan service that included, as I am a fan and I don’t mind being serviced. In the end, any show that brings me G.O.B. staring into the distance while “Sound of Silence” plays is going to be OK in my book.

    I also started to think of the show in comparison to my second favorite show of all-time, another show that staged a comeback, Futurama. They actually went with the movies plan off the bat, albeit direct-to-DVD, before picking up the series for a couple of seasons. I do hope to see more Arrested Development, and a movie could be interesting, especially since I did think season 4 ended a bit disappointingly. Of course, it is also much easier to do Futurama, because it is animated so they only have to bring in people for voices, and they don’t exactly have any big names in the cast. With all due respect them, as long as Katey Sagal can get away from Sons of Anarchy, they are good to go.

    Anyway, I bring up Futurama because when the show came back, I was excited, but after its break it really showed diminishing returns, and also people got less and less excited and now it is being cancelled (again) after this season, and they only had to get enough ratings for Comedy Central. I don’t feel like Arrested Development had the same issues. It did have a slow start, but that was because they couldn’t do fundamentally the same show and had to put pieces in place, but their storytelling and joke telling was as sharp as ever. I don’t know if I really had to bring up Futurama to make this point, but I just like talking about Futurama.

    As for the note about character likability, I think the problem is people talking about “liking” a character for two separate concepts i.e. liking a character as a character and liking a character as one would like a human being. So, you can like, say, Homer Simpson as a character, but he is a truly awful person who would be completely detestable in real life and would drive us all to Frank Grimes-style deaths. None of the characters in Arrested Development are likable as people to me, not even Buster, but I like them all as characters because I find them funny and interesting and the performances are good. Also, it was mildly concerning when Pete mentioned being able to “relate” to Dennis. Charlie, sure. Sweet Dee? Fair enough. But Dennis?

    Also, by mentioning The Simpsons, I managed to sneak in my favorite show of all-time. If only I could justify bringing up Mythbusters, then I could have the whole top four covered. Oh well.

    Ah, one more thing. In terms of Ann Veal, she was played by that first girl only once, and then Mae Whitman picked up the role, just like with Marta 1 and Marta 2 (and let us not forget Marta 3’s brief appearance.) And I am pretty sure she was only called Egg that one time. Other times she was referred to things such as Bland and Plant. “Her?” is the one motif related to her.

    Oh, and thanks for the Star Trek spoilers you dicks. I didn’t listen to that episode of the podcast for a reason. Maybe give people more than a couple weeks, or at least give them a warning. That is all.


      • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

        For OTI, the short lived FOX series Skin is sacred ground.


    • snitty #

      I thought I made it clear that the first Ann only had one appearance. Regardless, I’m happy to have finally been “Well, actually-ed.”

      And to be clear, when I said the cylon from Caprica, I meant the TV Series Caprica, and Alessandra Torresani, and not Caprica 6, played by Tricia Helfer.


    • Chris Morgan #

      Well, this is perhaps a reason not to try and generate comments in the middle of the night. Somewhere along the line, somebody attributed “his father is the district attorney” to The OC, and I guess I just ran with it as, like I said, I have not seen either show. As for Ann, I guess I was wrong on the Egg matter, and nobody was really wrong regarding the actresses playing her. Snitty said that the original actress only played her in the first season, and Whitman played her afterward. This is true, but it doesn’t necessarily make it clear that Ann only made one appearance in season one.

      Also, while I only ever did writing for The Second City and never did any actual improv, on that subject I enjoyed Tobias’ exceedingly literal take on “yes, and.” The best bad improv on TV since Michael Scott.


      • Chris Morgan #

        I just realized I used the phrase “on TV” when, of course, Arrested Development season 4 is not, you know, on TV. I guess I am still getting used to this brave new world. That, and apparently I can’t get anything right these days. I’ve become everything I’ve ever hated.


  2. Grim_ungainly #

    Nice episode guys.
    Speaking of improv, how did you guys feel about the connection drawn between improv and methodone?


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      You know, I saw the connection being more between Methodone and Method Acting, which to my mind is more apt.


    • snitty #

      Thank you sir. Thank you.


  3. Tim Peever #

    I happened to think season 4 was better than any of the other seasons, because the characters actually have some development, and that was interesting to see. The natural result of that, of course, is that there are more events that have actual consequences, and there starts to be something I can only describe as “gravitas”: Lucille wants a divorce, something mysterious has happened to Lucille 2, and then it all ends with an unpleasant confrontation between George Michael and his dad. You might say that all of the chickens come home to roost.

    On the subject of likability, with respect to the “sweat and squeeze” scam: I think that George had a pretty good idea, since there are already so many inspirational speaker scams out there, but what made him unlikable to me is that he didn’t care at all how Oscar felt, and didn’t think about how his wife would feel if she found out Oscar was having sex with her instead of George.

    As for how I watched the series, I saw a couple the day it came out, and then spent Monday watching the rest of it, finishing around 7 pm. I had to start taking breaks between episodes, because it started to hit a little too close to home. I started really identifying with Gob’s story arc, and my brain couldn’t help but react with, “Really? Gob?”

    I’m really looking forward to the next season, and it feels cruel that I might have to wait a whole year before it comes out. It also feels kind of cruel to the characters that it ended with a lot of the characters being at their lowest point ever. I suppose it reminds me of my experience reading “Candide”: I spent most of the book laughing at all of the awful things happening to the characters (which might be seasons 1 through 3), and then at the end, things are still awful, and that really sobered me up and made me feel bad for the characters (the end of season 4).

    PS: Is Maria Bamford’s character the one who is most in touch with reality? If so, is that because she has already hit her rock bottom?


  4. Gab #

    I had a really long post and then Windows 8 decided to update on me. Argh.

    So I guess all I have to say is did anybody besides me audibly react to seeing bananas instead of stars in their instant queue by the show after these new episodes aired?


  5. phizzled #

    Regarding the definition of binge watching television: i assume the minimum for binging is twice the provided quantity (e.g. if your local fox affiliate plays two episodes of HIMYM at 7PM, you must watch four or more episodes in one substantially uninterrupted block to binge) or the quantity of episodes provided on one DVD of a multi-DVD season set. Thus four episodes of an “hour long” show reaches binge status, even if a cable channel normally plays four straight episodes of Law and Order. If it takes more than a week to watch the season, the rate at which I’m watching it isn’t binge-y enough.
    Not that there’s any benefit to having identified that.


  6. Nathan #

    Speaking of ostriches, I started watching AD from the beginning recently and the first reference to an ostrich is early episode 4 of season 1. Michael says “Well, you’re wearing ostrich skin boots.” to which Lindsay replies nonchalantly “Well, I don’t care about ostriches.” This instance isn’t mentioned on the NPR guide under the “ostrich troubles” category, which makes me wonder..


  7. Chris Morgan #

    Before we all move on to the next thing, perhaps somebody should point out that, in fact, Mitch Hurwitz and company did not make a “Call Me Maybe” joke. However, they did give something ephemeral and zeitgeisty to Maeby, what with her usage of that sorority letter speech at the Opie’s. I am assuming it was fairly loyal to the original, but I am only familiar with the key two word phrase that captured all of our hearts. They must have stuck that in pretty late in the process, maybe while they were working on sneaking Ben Stiller’s Tony Wonder stuff in at the last minute. Reading some interviews with Hurwitz, that was apparently a close call. I’m glad Stiller was able to find some time, however. It wouldn’t have been the same without him.


    • Lee OTI Staff #

      It wouldn’t have been the same without him.

      I see what you did there.


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